I wrote this series of articles for the "Vision" section of the Texas Instruments' TI Tomorrow intra-website. Much of the information was provided by TI, and the contracting agency, but I also took the liberty to draw some of my own conclusions based on my personal experiences as an entrepreneur, business owner, and manager for nearly 20 years.  --rw
What is a Vision? 

If you are interested in creating a strategic plan for your company or organization, you've likely heard about the importance of establishing a long-term systemic vision. Burt Nanus, a well-known management consultant and author, defines vision as "a mental model of a future state of a process, a group, or an organization." Management researchers Peg Thoms and David Greenberger call it "a cognitive image of the future which is positive enough to members so as to be motivating and elaborate enough to provide direction for future planning and goal setting." 

Whatever the consultants and scholars tell you, keep in mind that visions are as different as the people who sculpt them. Some visions are personal, some are borne from the struggle to survive. Some visions save countries while others find new ways of improving our daily lives. As varied and multi-purpose as visions may be, they must have a definite design and structure to be effective. 

Visions that work are clear so they can easily be understood and acted upon by everybody that is asked to follow it. Every aspect of the mission statement should be enforced by a compelling need through shared problems, goals, and aspirations. The essential points of the vision should be so tightly focused that they challenge your audience to challenge themselves. Ask people to participate, not to just follow. Empower them by allowing them to share ownership in an optimistic future; one bearing positive attitudes and a meaningful opportunity for success. 

The most important aspect of a vision is the person, or people, who raise it up for others to see. While "envisioners" are characterized as the seekers and wonderers, the vision itself must be grounded on the knowledge that all goals are attainable, if only one can muster the focus in their lives to seek them out.

 This free webbook comprises 9 chapters and several samples of historic visionaries. Click on the side menu to access them. Other free webbooks can be found at the author's home page: Heavypen.